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Eagle eye Tasmania: Seascape Photography and processing guide

I was recently lucky enough to catch a beautiful sunset on my way home from work on the Tasman highway near the airport! I thought it would be a good spot to start with my blog, and to take you through some image processing techniques. 

The first thing to think about when shooting landscape and seascape photography is to find a point of interest for composition. The rule of thirds is what a lot of people use as reference for good composition, which involves breaking an image down into thirds horizontally and vertically. By placing your focus point in the intersections between those points you will have a more 'balanced' photo. 
It is a great place to start and important to learn, but it is important to also find something you like about the image to make it your own.

For composition in this case I used both the worn barrier in the shot to the right, and the bridge in the image below as interest points in the foreground to supplement and add balance to the sunset. The shot to the right is not quite rule of thirds, and it might have been better to take two photos (above with more clouds, and below with more of the barrier - then crop in post) and have the barrier closer to the midline of the shot.

Panorama with the bridge as a focal point. The image above was shot on my Canon 7D with a Tamron 10-24mm lens @10mm, f22. The large aperture assists in generating the large depth of field for the bridge, and also improves the focal plane.

Panorama with the bridge as a focal point. The image above was shot on my Canon 7D with a Tamron 10-24mm lens @10mm, f22. The large aperture assists in generating the large depth of field for the bridge, and also improves the focal plane.

Some things I usually consider when taking landscape and seascape photography

  • Composition - This is key for any landscape photo, but also key to a good seascape. Timing, angle and lighting are all important to getting a good photo. It is often good to try and capture the movement of the waves with long exposure too.
     
  • Capture your basic image - a single photo with focus correct and exposing for the middle ground. 
     
  • Check exposure and shutter speed - use auto exposure bracketing if needed to get the right exposure for the sky and the foreground. Longer shutter speeds (greater than 1s) will give a blurred or milky look to the water surface and clouds. 
     
  • Use filters or post-processing to get the most out of the images - use graduated filters (such as NiSi landscape filter kit - $$$), or stack images in photoshop or lightroom with HDR, using layer masks or adjustment brushes to bring up the exposure. 

One technique I used to get the most out of the colour and to correctly expose for the foreground and the sky with the beautiful sunset was High Dynamic Range (HDR) and shutter stacking. HDR can can be processed in Lightroom or Photoshop by selecting the images, then either right clicking in Lightroom and selecting merge - HDR, or file - merge to HDR pro in Photoshop. Alex Wise has a great guide for shutter stacking, which is linked below
http://www.alexwisephotography.net/blog/2017/03/12/landscape-photography-tip-shutter-stacking/

I will take you through the basic steps for processing this image below:

These are the raw images taken straight off the camera. I have imported these into a new Lightroom catalogue, then merged them into a HDR, which you can see below. 

This is the unedited HDR. It is still missing a lot of details in the shadow, but we can get the detail from the third image and boost the exposure using that detail. 

This is the unedited HDR. It is still missing a lot of details in the shadow, but we can get the detail from the third image and boost the exposure using that detail. 

From this point I used a layer mask with the third image and painted in some of the foreground. I then used an adjustment brush with increased exposure to correctly expose for the railing. After that point, I adjusted the curves the shadows and highlights, then adjusted the vibrance and saturation to make the colours 'pop'. Vibrance and saturation can be overdone using the basic tools, so I then adjusted per colour and pulled the blues back a bit so it wasn't over saturated, and finally used lens profile corrections and straightened/cropped the image!

Final photo after improving highlights

Final photo after improving highlights

Hopefully this helps you understand some of the techniques that I have been using for my seascape photography. If you have any suggestions, tips or comments, please write below or send me an email: ajphipps@outlook.com.au

 

PS: Small map for the location where I shot these photos